According to a recent news report from the Orange County Register, plaintiffs have filed multiple lawsuits against the City of Santa Ana in relation to the public lottery held to distribute licenses for marijuana collections within the city. The lottery system was created as part of a new ordinance pertaining to medical marijuana, and plaintiffs allege they way in which city officials used the lottery was fraudulent, and it makes it more difficult for patients desperately in need of medical marijuana to obtain their medicine.
Plaintiffs filed their respective complaints between December of last year and May of this year. One of the main problems plaintiffs have with the ordinance is that it requires at least 500 feet between medical marijuana dispensaries and 1,000 feet separation from any school, park, or residential zones.
While some regulation is understandable, as the city officials were hesitant to allow multiple dispensaries in one location, as some extremists fear it would end up looking similar to Amsterdam’s famous red light district, these vastly over-broad restrictions result in a large portion of medical marijuana patients in certain areas of the city being put at a serious disadvantage, as it is not possible to adhere to these regulations and still operate a legal dispensary. In other words, the law selects where, and in reality, who, can own these medical marijuana dispensaries. This is where the fraud allegations come into play.
Part of the problem, and the crux of plaintiffs’ concerns, is that after enacting a system that is essentially a “de facto ban” on many otherwise valid medical marijuana dispensaries, they city collected applications from over 630 potential dispensary owners and approved only 20 to move forward to the next round of consideration. What makes matters worse is each applicant was required to pay a non-refundable application fee of $1,690. The city ended up collecting over a $1 million dollars from applicants they allegedly never had any intention of considering for approval and kept the money, while they only collected $33,800 for viable candidates to operate a medical marijuana dispensary within city limits.
As our medical marijuana collective attorneys can explain, there are a lot of laws and regulations, which can affect whether or not your new business venture in the cannabis industry is successful or not. The best thing you can do is to speak with an experienced attorney prior to submitting an application and paying an application fee, as it is better to deal with any issues before spending a significant amount of money on the project.
However, if you are already caught up in the process and hit it a snag along the way, it may not be too late to fix any issues. This is not to say you should wait forever, because the sooner you seek counsel for your medical cannabis enterprise, the better your chances of a successful outcome.
With regard to these currently filed lawsuits, it should be noted that the mayor has said these legal actions were fully anticipated, and they are just a normal part of the process. The mayor also said this medical marijuana collective industry will eventually bring far more than $1 million to the city.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Santa Ana faces legal challenges against medical marijuana measure , May 29, 2016, OC Register
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